A proposed 386-acre development in La Quinta is facing determined opposition from nearby residents—who have thus far raised about $66,000 to fight the project.
The Coral Mountain Resort would include 600 homes, with prices starting at $2.5 million; a 150-room hotel; hiking and biking trails; spa and wellness facilities; adventure-sports facilities; and a restaurant and market. It’s being proposed by Meriwether Companies, a real estate development and investment firm based in Colorado.
It’s the development’s planned centerpiece that has neighbors most upset: a half-mile long wave pool, created by the Kelly Slater Wave Company, containing 18 million gallons of water, with artificial waves provided for surfers. It would be one of the largest such wave facilities in the world.
Despite the opposition, a draft environmental impact report prepared by the city of La Quinta says the project would use an allowable amount of water, and would have minimal impacts on neighboring residents.
Garrett Simon, a partner with Meriwether Companies, explained why the company chose the location and purchased the land, which is largely vacant, in 2019.
“We have been active in the area for 10-plus years, and it is close to Los Angeles, San Diego,” Simon said. “From the weather to its beautiful scenery, La Quinta is already on the map as one of the best destinations. There’s golf and tennis—just a fantastic destination.”
Simon said the Coral Mountain Resort would be “revenue positive” for the city due to the taxes it would bring in. “The project has an annual revenue surplus of an estimated $1.6 million (phase 1) to $2.2 million (buildout),” he said via email.
If the project is approved, Meriwether plans to start construction in the second quarter of 2022.
A number of nearby residents hope to stop that construction, and have formed a group called La Quinta Residents for Responsible Development (LQRRD) to fight the project. The property is currently zoned for low-density residential use, as well as a golf course and some commercial use. LQRRD representatives say the proposed change to allow “tourist commercial” zoning violates the 2035 general plan for La Quinta.
Ramon Baez, a LQRRD representative, said residents of surrounding neighborhood communities—including Andalusia, Trilogy and The Quarry—fear the proposed development will harm their quality of life. LQRRD claims the zoning change would allow an “amusement-like theme park that operates from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., 365 days of the year.”
“Imagine you live at La Quinta Cove, where they don’t have any night streetlights—then they build a surf wave park on one of your beautiful trails,” Baez said.
Bruce Bauer, an attorney with Slovak Baron Empey Murphy and Pinkney LLP, was hired by LQRRD. He said that while the proposed Coral Mountain Resort makes economic sense for Meriwether, it doesn’t make economic sense for nearby residents.
“We believe the resort will create an ongoing festival (amusement park) atmosphere,” Bauer said. “Many of these residents in the adjoining communities invested their life savings in their residences, and they invested in La Quinta. No one understood that this sort of development would be next to them.”
Despite the neighbors’ concerns, the city’s draft environmental impact report—prepared with the assistance of MSA Consulting, Inc.—concludes that projected water usage, as well as traffic, noise and lighting, will all be within the scope of local regulations. Though these factors will be reviewed at five-year intervals, it’s unclear what would happen if the resort fails to meet these standards.
The draft environmental impact report is viewable at www.laquintaca.gov. The city is accepting public comments through Aug. 6. Comments may be submitted with “Coral Mountain Resort DEIR” in the subject line at email@example.com. After public hearings, the city Planning Commission will make its recommendation to the La Quinta City Council, which is slated to make the final decision sometime in the fall, according to Cheri Flores, La Quinta’s planning manager.
Three other wave or surf lagoon parks in Coachella Valley—in Palm Desert, Thermal and Palm Springs—are in various stages of development.